The number 420 has represented cannabis culture for over 30 years. But where did it come from, and has it always been related to marijuana?
The answer comes from a group of high school boys in San Rafael, Calif., in 1971. Every day at 4:20 p.m., they would meet at a statue of chemist Louis Pasteur on their campus. At first they used the time to follow a map in search of an abandoned pot patch.
As time passed, the boys found use in “420” as not only a time to light up, but also as a code around parents, cops and teachers. They had no idea their code would become an internationally accepted term for pot users.
“It’s a way for this persecuted culture to talk to each other and not to be exposed,” said Steven Hager, editor-in-chief of High Times magazine, in an interview with ABC News in 2002.
In addition to being a reference to getting high on the date or time of day, 420 has also taken a place in mainstream society.
The 420 Campaign is now a coined term that describes groups and actions around the country involving the legalization of marijuana. According to an article published in High Times magazine, “We want to use April 20 as a focal point every year to concentrate pressure on Congress to legalize marijuana until we get the job done.
“I think that we need to study why these things are happening, and why is there so much violence in our culture.”
The pros and cons of marijuana have been debated for years.
The largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States is the Marijuana Policy Project. Its goals are to make marijuana available for medical uses and also as a legally taxed and regulated substance. The organization’s activities include legalization, lobbying Congress to approve medical marijuana and recruiting celebrities for support.
The legalization movement is not just about the right to smoke, but also wanting to work to make environmental and medical improvements.
The use of hemp as a replacement for items made out of petrochemicals could potentially lower pollution, and using marijuana as a medicine could be successful.
Another group fighting for legalization of marijuana is the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. It focuses on the fact that marijuana is currently the largest cash crop in the United States. NORML contends that if marijuana was added to the U.S. economy as a legal cash crop, state deficits would be resolved and raising taxes would be unnecessary.
While most nations consider the drug an illegal narcotic, its consumption, distribution, harvesting and selling occur around the world.
Despite the fact that 420 is celebrating an illegal drug, it is still considered a holiday by millions. And on 4/20, those millions gather around the world to celebrate not only the use of marijuana, but also the positive impact they hope it will have on the world.
So how are students celebrating 4:20 this year?
Student Marcus Gause said he planned to “leave early from work, and hit the ATM machine up.”